The CCAAT motif-binding factor NF-Y consists of three different subunits, NF-YA, NF-YB and NF-YC. Knockdown of Drosophila NF-YA (dNF-YA) in eye discs with GMR-GAL4 and UAS-dNF-YAIR resulted in a rough eye phenotype and monitoring of differentiation of photoreceptor cells by LacZ expression in seven up-LacZ and deadpan-lacZ enhancer trap lines revealed associated loss of R7 photoreceptor signals. In line with differentiation of R7 being regulated by the sevenless (sev) gene and the MAPK cascade, the rough eye phenotype and loss of R7 signals in dNF-YA-knockdown flies were rescued by expression of the sev gene, or the D-raf gene, a downstream component of the MAPK cascade. The sev gene promoter contains two dNF-Y-binding consensus sequences which play positive roles in promoter activity. In chromatin immunoprecipitation assays with anti-dNF-YA antibody and S2 cells, the sev gene promoter region containing the NF-Y consensus was effectively amplified in immunoprecipitates from transgenic flies by polymerase chain reaction, indicating that dNF-Y is necessary for appropriate sev expression and involved in R7 photoreceptor cell development.